Nemastim from Pheronym uses pheromones as a natural pesticide to help improve crop production.


  • Reduced chemical use
  • Increased production


  • Agriculture
  • Food and beverage industry

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 2: Zero Hunger

  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

The Challenge

Consumers demand safe, eco-friendly, sustainable solutions for the food they eat because they are aware of the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides. This has led to restrictions and bans on the $56 billion synthetic pesticide market, but farmers still have to control pests for sustainable food production. The $4.5 billion global biopesticide market is growing at a rate of 14% due to increased demand from organic food production.

Innovation Details

Pheronym increases the effectiveness of commercially available beneficial nematodes (microscopic roundworms) by tapping into their natural communication platform, pheromones. These pheromones tell beneficial nematodes to be more effective and efficient predators, and also trick parasitic nematodes into thinking there are no food sources nearby. This allows for the widespread adoption of a proven organic farming technique and provides eco-friendly agricultural pest control.

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Watch how Pheronym uses nematode pheromones to increase crop production.

Biological Model

Nematodes are the most abundant animals on earth, and are a critical component of healthy soils. Beneficial nematodes protect crops by eating harmful organisms and recycling nutrients into the soil, while other species of nematodes act as pests, parasitizing crop roots or spreading viruses between plants.

Ray of Hope Prize

The Ray of Hope Prize® celebrates nature-inspired solutions addressing the world’s biggest environmental and sustainability challenges. Created in honor of Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, Inc. and a business and sustainability leader, the $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize helps startups cross a critical threshold in becoming viable businesses by amplifying their stories and providing them with equity-free funding. The prize shines a light on the innovative, nature-inspired solutions that we need to build a sustainable and resilient world. Pheronym was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Ray of Hope Prize.